UNL-developed robot completes surgical simulation in space

Feb. 19, 2024, 9 a.m. ·

UNL Professor Shane Farritor watches Dr. Michael Jobst, a Lincoln surgeon, make the first surgical robotic cut on the International Space Station. (Photo by Craig Chandler/University of Nebraska-Lincoln Communication and Marketing)

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A robot developed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is among the first to complete a surgical simulation in space.

A research team led by UNL engineering professor Shane Farritor received grant funding from NASA to send the robot to the International Space Station.

The 2-pound robot, controlled by surgeons from across the United States, cut ten rubber bands as part of its initial space test.

Farritor said the test exceeded expectations.

“Everything worked flawlessly in our Space Station Experiment,” he said. “That's always a great place to be.”

Farritor hopes to continue to develop the technology and use it for remote surgeries that can treat patients in underserved communities.

“These small devices have a lot of advantages and one of them is that they can be used in different places,” he said. “You mentioned rural environments, critical access hospitals, but also, developing markets across the world.”

He said he plans to continue clinical trials in order to eventually treat patients in a variety of ways.

“To have a specialist dial in from a distance and assist with a surgery and provide better care to these you know, unusual places is has fantastic potential,” he said.

SpaceMIRA is scheduled to return from the International Space Station in April.